The Silica Fibre Facilties

The Silica Fibre facilities occupy over 160 sq.m of class 10,000 cleanroom space and comprise state-of-the-art fabrication equipment. This includes modified chemical vapour deposition (MCVD) lathes, a glassworking lathe, a 6 metre high dual-sided fibre drawing tower, and dedicated chemical preparation areas for glass etching and machining. 

The facility is capable of producing standard preforms and optical fibre to a high quality as well as retaining the versatility to fabricate the huge variety of speciality fibres, including microstructured fibres required for research.

The major items of equipment are described below.

Preform fabrication

We have 2 modified chemical vapour deposition (MCVD) lathes, a glassworking lathe, and dedicated chemical preparation areas for glass doping, etching and machining. We have developed many techniques for doping and fabricating speciality preforms and have developed bespoke equipment such as gas phase deposition for making active doped fibres and in-situ doping. We also have an outside vapour deposition (OVD) system capable of fabricating the next generation of silica based fibres.

Fibre fabrication

We have a 6 metre high dual-sided fibre drawing tower which is suitable for a range of fibres. Preforms up to 60 mm in diameter can be drawn into fibre using a unique furnace design. The drawing tower is designed for the fabrication and coating of large diameter fibre, up to 1 mm as well as ribbon geometries, and forms part of our research into high power fibre lasers.

Ultrasonic mill and drill

Used for high-precision drilling of silica to fabricate preforms for polarisation maintaining (PM) and microstructured fibres. Also used for machining silica preforms for fabrication of custom geometry fibre. Capable of drilling a range of hole diameters up to 20mm, to depths of up to 200mm.

Hydrofluoric acid etching station

Custom built unit for acid etching of silica performs. Capable of precision etching multiple preforms up to 750mm in length.

Fibre rewind and proof testing

Capable of rewinding fibre up to 500 um diameter and speeds up to 500m/min, with tension control of payoff and take up. The machine also has proof test capability of up to 8kg.

Photon Kinetics PK2600-HP preform profiler

Provides automated high-resolution refractive index profiling of up to 1m long. We have an additional special feature that enables a 3D “helix” measurements to evaluate refractive index uniformity along the preform length.

Photon Kinetics S14 fibre profiler

Provides high-resolution refractive index profiling and geometry measurements of a wide range of fibre types up to 500μm in diameter, including D-shaped, microstructured and polarisation maintaining fibres.

Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR)

High resolution: less than 10 cm, Sensitivity: -110 dBm


UV-VIS-IR (250 - 5500 nm) fitted with Lock-in amplifier and computer-assisted control

The group also has the capability for basic laser characterisation and spectroscopic studies in both fibre and preform.

Commissioning the Fibre Cleanroom facilties

The Fibre Cleanroom facilties can be commissioned on a daily basis in order to assist your particular line of research. Whether you are a member of the ORC, a member of another department within this or other university, or even a scientist from industry or other research establishment, you are welcome to make use of the fibre facility. Moreover, we are keen to establish collaborations with other experimentalists.

Please contact Dr Jayanta Sahu for further details.

Copyright University of Southampton 2006